Evans and Socha to launch new waterfront restaurant
by Sue Wade
Punta Gorda, Florida – April 24, 2019 – In less than five years Punta Gorda businessman and restaurateur Chris Evans and his partner, New York developer William Socha, have transformed not only the face of Punta Gorda’s Marion Avenue, but also a rural New York community, with their premier restaurants The Blue Turtle, F.M. Don’s (with Chef/Partner Keith Meyer) and The Glass Tavern.
They’ll soon do the same on the water, at Fishermen’s Village. In September 2019, they plan to open The Pier, a fresh new dining destination overlooking the harbor from one of the Village’s southwest buildings facing Punta Gorda Isles. Evans’ grandfather, F. M. “Don” Donelson, who originally developed Fishermen’s Village nearly 50 years ago, would have been especially proud of his grandson’s latest undertaking. “Fishermen’s Village struggled in a state of disrepair for many years of its existence, until the early- 2000s, when it came into its own,” Evans recalled. “Now, the Village’s new owner has a spectacular plan that will modernize my grandfather’s original vision, but maintain that Old Florida, small town feel.” According to Evans, the Village is undergoing a major culture change as its traffic increases. Village owner Jon Larmore with the help of his local and national team including Jeremy Hamilton, plan dramatic new experiences for more visitors and locals than ever. “From what I’ve seen working with them,” said Evans, “Fishermen’s Village will continue to be Punta Gorda’s greatest asset well into the future. Its full potential has yet to be realized. And we feel especially fortunate that they’ve included local businesspeople in their vision for the future.” The Pier will be a 6,000-square-foot, 300-seat, refreshingly contemporary restaurant which will add a new dining genre to Fishermen’s Village. Seating at The Pier will include a 20-foot sundeck boasting two banks of tables that offer spectacular views of Charlotte Harbor during the day and front-row seats for our awe-inspiring sunsets during the evening. Imagine watching dolphins play while you enjoy your meal! The restaurant will be centered around a modern Pacific Infused interior, draped with wall plantings, a 36-seat sushi and full-service bar will serve guests. There, they can watch sushi being rolled and created. Some of the many options will include their own sticky- or fried-rice bowls with ingredients from ahi tuna to tempura shrimp, crab and fresh salmon. Throughout the restaurant, stepped tiers of booths and tables will provide every guest has a water view, whether they’re seated inside, around the bar or on the waterfront deck.
Well-known local chef Todd Stolpe will orchestrate the kitchen. As executive chef, Stolpe brings 25 years culinary engineering to the job. Always seeking the perfect synergy of setting and cuisine, he’s never written the same menu twice. “We wanted to offer something unlike any other restaurant in town,” said Stolpe. “This is the sort of fresh, new menu that you’d find in Tampa, St. Pete or Miami. We plan to work with seasonal, sustainable ingredients from land and sea, and focus on calorie-light, healthy cuisine.” A first in the local area, Chef Todd’s menu marries Florida food with the traditional flavors and cooking techniques of Hawaii, the Pacific Islands and the Pacific Rim, in dishes as diverse as Kalua Pulled Pork, Kona Short Ribs, Thai Chili Calamari, pot stickers, spring rolls and a full sushi menu. The basics are also there, including starters, salads, sliders, Stolpe’s famous Lobster Mac and Cheese, and such creative twists as Hibachi Diver U10 Scallops with Yukon Gold Mash and Jalapeño Creamed Corn. Evans estimates that The Pier will hire between 45 and 75 full- and part-time employees. Fishermen’s Village General Manager Patti Allen said, “We are extremely excited to have the opportunity to welcome entrepreneur Chris Evans to our family of Fishermen’s Village restaurants. The Pier’s concept captures the forward-thinking, dynamic vision that our owner, Jon Larmore, has for the future of Fishermen’s Village. A seasoned professional, Chris Evans possesses the attitude, resources and commitment to make every project he touches a huge success. And we look forward to the vibrant menu that Chef Todd will bring to our guests and the community of Punta Gorda.”